'Something we strive for:' RPS focusing on more diversity within police force
The sign in front of Regina Police Headquarters is pictured in this file photo. (Brendan Ellis/CTV News)
REGINA -- The Regina Police Service is continuing its ongoing efforts to build an inclusive and supportive police force by expanding its diversity.
In its 2019 Employment Equity Report, presented at the Board of Police Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, the statistics show RPS decreased in three of four main diversity categories. There were slight decreases in those working for the force who are Indigenous, disabled and a visible minority.
The total number of female employees in the RPS also decreased slightly, from 41.1 per cent in 2018 to 40.7 per cent in 2019. However, the number of women in under-represented occupations rose slightly. Ten more officers were hired in 2019 and four of those were women.
Source: Regina Police Service
The report said there are a number of factors that affect the ability to recruit and retain diversity, which include the nature of the job, employment conditions and the job market. Retirement also plays a role in the numbers. Specifically, one Indigenous officer retired in 2019, which caused that representation to decrease.
Michael Fougere, the incumbent Mayor of Regina, said the board of police commissioners continues to look for ways to ensure more diversity in the RPS.
“We have a diverse community and we have an obligation,” said Michael Fougere, the mayor of Regina. “We have ongoing efforts to have diverse both civilian and sworn officers, and that’s really the goal and objective here.”
INITIATIVES MOVING FORWARD
The RPS has a number of ongoing initiatives aimed at further diversifying the police force.
RPS has a partnership with the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Aboriginal Police Preparation program. The program allows recruiters to form relationships with potential candidates. The annual Treaty Four Citizen’s Police Academy has a similar mission. A scholarship for these programs is currently under development.
The RPS diversity strategy is another measure used by the force, which offers programs and initiatives to all employees to support diversity. The strategy looks at eliminating barriers faced by certain groups.
Evan Bray, the Chief of the Regina Police Service, said they follow the targets laid out by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission when it comes to the four main categories of diversity: Women, Indigenous people, people with disabilities and visible minorities.
“We do a very good job of our diversity recruiting and reaching out, but there’s always ways we can increase that,” Bray said. “We‘ve had some meetings with community groups, even in the last couple of weeks, where we’ve explored new and innovative ways in which we can try and be more reflective of our community.”
Bray said that means if there’s a group represented in the community, they should also be represented in the police force.
“You should always be able to look at a group of police officers and see yourself reflected in that group,” Bray said. “That’s something we strive for.”